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6 months ago
Fitness secrets: How Alicia Vikander got in shape to play Lara Croft

From the delicate frame of a ballerina to a rock-solid body for action adventure film Tomb Raider, Oscar-winning actress Alicia Vikander underwent seven months of intense workout and training to kick and punch as the audience expects Lara Croft to do.

Vikander’s trainer Magnus Lygdback says the actress’ physical transformation was not easy as balancing the gym schedule with training for technical skills was a challenge. “What I knew about Alicia when I was stepping in was that she was a former ballerina and there is nothing tougher on Earth for a ballerina. They are used to working for six-seven hours non-stop. I had high hopes for this to be a great project for me,” said Lygdback.

“She was extremely hardworking. The only challenge was to give her all the skills she needed... Technical skills like climbing, fighting and cycling to build into the character, while you are building it physically in the gym. “So that is a challenge... To get so many traits or build all those skills in one (individual) in a short time,” added Lygdback, whose clientele also includes names like Avicii, Alexander Skarsgard, Britney Spears, Mike Posner, Ben Affleck, Katy Perry, Lukas Graham and Harry Styles.

With films like Ex Machina, The Danish Girl and Jason Bourne, Vikander is known for her acting prowess. But her latest film Tomb Raider also tested her physical strength. The Warner Bros Pictures project, based on a popular reboot of a video game with the same name, was released in India on Friday, a week before it opens in the US.

Lygdback, who is also training actress Gal Gadot for Wonder Woman 2, opted for a balanced approach. “There were four cycles. I started the first cycle seven months before filming. I started her off with a basic strength programme where I sent her training videos to build up the fundamental strengths and make sure she is physically aligned. When you start training, you want the body to be in a certain way, and form and technique should be good,” he said.

The training then transitioned into the “Magnus method”. “I started her off with my nutrition and lifestyle plan, which is all about boosting your metabolism and eating five times a day, and maintaining or gaining a healthy amount of muscle mass. It is a balanced programme,” added the Swedish health and wellness expert. Lygdback recounts that he met Vikander for the first time four months before filming — and that is when the training gathered speed.

“I met with her in London, and that is when we started to build up a cycle with heavy training and a lot of good food. Two months before filming, we did a cutting cycle which is more high intensity training and diet.” Lygdback said the last stage was the hardest one to crack. “The fourth cycle, which is very important, is to maintain the physique while filming. How to maintain low body fat, keep all the muscles on? That is the tricky part because you are physically active on the set. It is up to me to monitor the day-to-day schedule and energy level and body mass.”

Hollywood icon Angelina Jolie was last seen as Lara Croft in 2001. So did he take any cues from her character? “I loved the movie, and somewhere we all do. But we didn’t compare it with the old. This is an original story and it is something different.” Lygdback also has a message for fans who look up to their idol.

“I would say, especially for women, don’t be afraid to lift weights. You will not get big or stocky — that is the biggest myth ever. If you get too big, then you are eating the wrong things.” He says everyone should eat five meals a day and take out sugar and fat carbohydrates from their diet. “Eat protein, good fat and slow carbs... 17 out of 20 meals should be on point and in three out of 20 meals you should enjoy life. It is okay to have something that is completely unhealthy... It is all about balance.”

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